Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Art of Not Knowing

Patricia Karamesines "Introduction to the Mysteries/How to Read a Poem" uses a rather informal tone.  She dedicates her poem to "Sean" and the first line begins with "First, kiddo" as if addressing her son or a young person she cares about and is familiar with.  She addresses the reader as "toots" and "dearie" and "darling" giving the poem a light-hearted touch.    In a few places, she writes categorically listing different ideas as one would do when expressing ideas with examples.   Her poem, in many places, reads like a conversation.For example, while trying to explain how to read a poem in the second stanza, she writes "If you read a poem, yourself, alone, watch for those sudden synchronizations of, you know, pulses..."  Her tone makes the poem identifiable as if she was speaking to me and was perhaps my mother.  Though the tone and language of the poem often remains informal, the poet addresses a much deeper thought.
The last line of her poem reads "It isn't to know, darling, it's never to know, but only ever follow what calls". I was reminded of the movie "The Santa Claus" were a sweet little elf tells Tim Allen "Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing".  Karamesines, in her poem, encourages the reader to experience, take risks, find adventure and stumble upon truth and knowledge as if  catching such things "playing naked in the stream".  She does not suggest not to seek for truth but rather experience life in a way where truth will find you.
Often times, I think Heavenly Father gives us a similar answer to our prayers.  We often want immediate and comprehensive answers to every plea and prayer without actually experiencing the adventure that comes when we don't know everything.  The poet writes "To read a poem is to stand with it and to move, to change in ardor of exchange, to wind with words into a nerve bundle of world's desire."  Such advice should be applied to experiencing life in general; we should be willing to experience and trust in God's promise that we will stumble upon our answers.


  1. The line you quoted, "To read a poem is to stand with it and to move, to change in ardor of exchange, to wind with words into a nerve bundle of world's desire," is one of my favorite descriptions of poetry I have ever heard. Great post!

  2. I also really liked this poem. As you mentioned, the author did a great job with creating a conversation with the reader and I think that this helped the poem become more personable and meaningful for many types of readers, especially those that don't naturally turn to poetry.

  3. I really liked this poem too! I can completely agree, I think it is important for the author to communicate with the reader in this kind of way. I think he did a great job because this can be hard at times. thanks for your thoughts!